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Cos I've come to the conclusion that I've got some kinda.. deficiency... in it. Or something.  I'm also 4 eps behind in Lost, which is frankly shocking considering it's the final season.  Probably the spoiler that Charlotte came back and had some whole kinda thing with alt!Sawyer rather than Dan has pushed me over the edge, and I'm really hoping there's not gonna be a repeat of the whole BSG thing where I still haven't seen the last 12 eps, or Razor, or The Plan,  mostly cos it ended up heading in a direction that made my brain zone out...

(Seriously, the current ad break is making my head hurt... they're playing what I could swear is Mumford and Sons on a tv ad for  And just switched off for a break from rewatching The Devil's Whore, and I'm suddenly hearing John Simm doing the voiceover for an Orange ad.... My brain is suitably confused.)

(apparently I also have issues with, er, focus too..)

The reason I'm also watching TDW  again now is that I went to see Solomon Kane last weekend (after a marathon sour cream chocolate birthday cake baking session, long story), and was oddly impressed considering it was a Euro-stock-fantasy with a tiny budget that takes itself very seriously indeed.. but there was, equally oddly, distinct flair in the visuals with a real sense of plague-ridden, Puritan-esque England where it rains all the sodding time.  Basically, it's earnest, grim, dour, definitely indebted to LOTR and seriously atmospheric. Also, there are demons. And zombies!

This would probably also be a good moment to mention that there's also a lot of James Purefoy being all noble whilst mostly dressed in leather trousers, finding lots of excuses to go topless

(does being crucified count as an excuse, I'm wondering?).  I'm just saying. He also has a West Country accent which, when combined with all the blood, guts, demons, crucifixions and hacking'n'slashing, gets quite dizzyingly weird.  Action heroes do not, as a rule, come from Somerset.  You can do a Sean Bean (or, indeed, John Simm a la TDW) and be all Northern and get away with it.  West Country sounds a little strange... but hey.  Did I mention he was all noble and glowering and topless? 

Well, you can seriously tell that everyone involved suffered for their art (and lordy, James Purefoy is impressively ripped) but there was also the fun of watching the supporting cast pop up covered in grime... Pete Postlethwaite and Alice Krige being nice Puritans, Mackenzie Crook as ker-razy zombie-loving priest, Max von Sydow, Rachel Hurd-Wood (gawd, Peter Pan seems a looong time ago now, and yet she looks remarkably similar) as Damsel In Distress and, ooh look, the dude under all the make-up at the end is good old Jason Flemyng...

There were a couple of plot issues that didn't quite work - Solomon has a great habit of freeing all the demon's prisoners then abandoning them to wander off when they're quite likely to catch hypothermia in the freezing cold rain/snow/mud wearing exceedingly thin rags.  Also, I can't quite see why he left Mama Puritan all alone surrounded by the corpses of her husband and sons plus freezing cold rain/snow/mud to go looking for the kidnapped daughter right that second... I mean, he was that far behind the demon hordes/Meredith that it took days to catch up, so making sure her only surviving family didn't die of exposure/have to bury everyone all by herself wouldn't be too difficult to justify, surely...?

Teeny bit weird with the Rachel Hurd-Wood character role too... what would normally be the obligatory love-interest (she just squeaks in as old enough for it not to be completely oogy. Maybe. Almost.), but this isn't that kinda film, and he's not that kinda character.  So, she's mostly supposed to be the innocent/salvation thing, but that would maybe work better if she was a lot younger... probably.  Mostly she just got to make him a spiffy new leather outfit to show how nice she was, get kidnapped, sit in a cage and scream "SOLOMON"  at opportune moments.  It's just... if you're gonna have a young blonde thing drape herself over Our Hero after the gigantic closing battle with the Balrog LOTR rip-off  gigantic glowing demon thing, you're inviting the audience to draw a conclusion from that.  In this case, you're also depending on your audience having paid enough attention to the whole "I want to hide in a monastery!/ I exist only to fight evil!" stuff he's been mumbling about all the way through.  There's a whole thing going on with character that isn't resting on traditional protagonist motivations and it makes you wonder what they're getting at exactly.  

What really got me otherwise was that, yes, this is a film prepared to have the plucky kid brother (played by Rachel Hurd-Wood's real brother, oddly enough) horribly murdered by the bad guys just off camera.  We did sit there for a minute before it happened debating whether this was that kind of film (because, frankly, most films aren't. There are rules, and small children and pets are mostly exempt from random slaughter.). 

So, anyhoo, this being stuck in my brain for a week (and I do really hope the promised sequels get made because there's real potential there.) set the whole Devil's Whore obsession thing off again.  Well, they do both have that whole Early Modern English thing going on (I was automatically going to say 'medieval', until I took a little crash course in English history on Wikipedia, and who knew, that all ended with Henry VIII apparently.. Hey, my History A Level was in 19th C. British Politics and 20th C European Dictators, and we did not get along. ).  They do both have Puritans running around though, although they're pretty much the good guys in Solomon Kane,  and possibly kinda the bad guys in TDW (although not Rainsborough, obv.  Definitely Cromwell though..).  So now I'm 2/3 of the way through, and swooning all over again at the ridiculous UST and pretty dresses, plus Angelica's famously bad luck in husbands (and just noticed this time how Bess was the first person she meets out of her later crew, and the first one she thought of when they heard Honest John had been jailed again.).  This is probably the first time I've actually watched it in order all the way through, and lordy, I'd forgotten how much fun it was... I'm going to be in pieces watching the last ep again though..Don't do it, Sexby!

Hmm...also I finally saw Avatar in Imax 3D, was highly impressed, and before that got a tad upset when it didn't get Best Picture at the Oscars (hey, I stayed up til 5.30am watching the wretched thing, and while I would be spitting blood if Kath Bigelow hadn't got Best Director, I think the amount of work that went into Avatar, how impressive the finished product turned out to be, and the amount of success it's had does actually deserve to be recognised as well.)  It's quite extraordinary how much better it is in Imax, and after the inital 3D clips at Moviecon last year made me kinda ill.. Hell, I sat there like a little kid with a big grin on my face the first few minutes as it zoomed over the forest, and actually went to brush away the falling ash after Hometree burned.  I honestly can't see 3D very well normally (apparently the Imax glasses and wearing contacts make a big difference) so it was fantastic stuff.

Aaand now I need to stop blathering and go get some sleep... tomorrow would be my next writing retreat and last time was not a great success due to my fabulous sleep-deprived zombie interpretation...!


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Jennifer Howell

July 2015

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